pasta with onion, bacon, and tomato

Pasta with Tomato, Bacon, and Onion

Hello again, blog readers! With school settling into something resembling a routine and all the shininess of the new pup worn off (just kidding), it is time to get back to writing about food.

Sliced onions

Pasta All’Amatriciana, as it’s known in Italian, is a great example of a way you can riff on recipes that you may already know. It’s a basic tomato sauce, with some of the fat replaced by bacon and the onions increased and caramelized. Using this same line of thinking, shakshuka is just eggs poached in the same basic tomato sauce with more chilies and some added spices (cumin and paprika). Thinking about food and cooking this way is incredibly helpful, and it is one of the ways that you can get yourself out of recipe-based cooking and into food-based cooking.

Sauteeing onions

Anyway, here you go. Pasta All’Amatriciana, or, if you prefer, pasta with onion, bacon, and tomato.

Pasta All'Amatriciana

Pasta All’Amatriciana

serves 4
from Serious Eats


1 large onion, sliced (about 6 ounces)
1 – 4 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or more to taste
about 4 ounces of bacon, thinly sliced
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 lb. spaghetti
grated Parmesan cheese, for serving


Place the onions in a large skillet and add 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the water is mostly evaporated and the onions are starting to brown (about 2-3 minutes).

Add the olive oil (use the smaller amount if your bacon is very fatty; if it is on the lean side use more oil), garlic, and crushed red pepper. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are browned and everything is fragrant. Add the bacon and continue to cook until the bacon is browned and the fat is rendered, about 5 minutes.

At this point, if you have stuff stuck onto the bottom of the pan, add about 1/2 cup water and cook over high heat for a minute, scraping up the fond. If nothing is sticking, don’t worry about it.

Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to medium-low, cover, and cook for about 20-30 minutes, or until the tomatoes have broken down and the onions have melted away. Taste for seasoning; I usually find that this rich, oily sauce stands up to a fair amount of crushed red pepper. About 10 minutes before you want to eat, cook the pasta in well-salted water (it should taste like the ocean!) until tender. Toss with the tomato sauce and serve, passing cheese and crushed red pepper flakes at the table.


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